About The Project

Project Scope

Rotuman peoples living in diaspora have a deep desire to learn, appreciate, preserve, and respect our shared heritage. Using 360-degree photography and interactive digital design and storytelling, this project will take website visitors on a virtual tour of Rotuma with stops along the way documenting cultural heritage, Rotuman wisdom, Rotuman language, geographic & ecological insight, and personal stories.

Urgency of the Project – Preserving an Endangered Language

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) listed the Rotuman language as one of the most endangered languages in the world, with only 15,000 speakers globally. Approximately 1,500 Rotuman people currently live on the island. To date, it is undocumented how many individuals of Rotuman heritage exist around the world.

Urgency of the Project – Climate Change

Scientists are increasingly concerned that small island nations in the Pacific are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change as rising sea levels, storms, and coral bleaching increase due to environmental change. In Fiji alone, more than 40 low-lying communities are earmarked to be relocated to upper ground because of rapid sea level rise. {Source: Saber Salem: “Climate Change and the Sinking Islands, Jan. 09, 2020, e-International Relations}

Community building

One of the aims of the project is to identify and connect the international community of Rotuman-descendants. Through these connections, we seek to collaboratively explore our shared experiences in diaspora, knowledge, wisdom and shared desire to honor, respect, and preserve Rotuman cultural heritage. The ultimate purpose of community-building is to create space for our children, and grandchildren to feel welcome to seek connections to their Rotuman heritage.

Sustainability

We anticipate that through the development of this project, we may create a replicable model of cultural preservation and storytelling for Pasifika peoples, which is crucial given rising ocean levels affecting low-lying communities throughout Oceania.

The founders of the project have a long-term vision and commitment to seeing this passion project come to life and to continue as a gift to all Rotuman peoples. Moving forward through the project, we seek partners to share their knowledge, time and talents to keep The Rotuma Project a living and dynamic curation of cultural content. In the future, we hope to engage Rotuman youth so they may also gain valuable cultural and mentored professional experience in working on the project.

Team

This project will be spearheaded by Jonathan Fong & Kathy Weber-Bates, first cousins descended from Saolei/Savlei. Jonathan brings a wealth of professional videography, photography, digital design, and humor to the project. Kathy brings two decades of professional experience in journalism, storytelling, videography, graphic design, and public relations to the project. Together, these Rotuman cousins aim to help create an interactive web tour of Rotuma for all of our kaunohoga to learn, honor, respect, appreciate, and preserve.

Consideration

We acknowledge the contributions of our ancestors, the beautiful potential of the next generation, and we share our respect for the land, the ocean, our Rotuman Chiefs, leaders, and our kaunohoga around the world. To God be all glory and praise, through whom all things are possible.

“Noåia ‘e hanisi. Alalum makikia.”

Thank you for your interest in the development of The Rotuma Project. If you would like to support the project, please contact us.

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